course
The European Catastrophe, 1914-45

May 2019

Mazower is a very disjointed lecturer and seemed more interested in talking about his own personal connection to the topics than the actual material itself. He had these powerpoints with all of these quotes that were too small for students to read and didn't upload them until the beginning of April. Lectures were disjointed and all over the place, and if you didn't have time to read the textbook you would be completely lost in class. (Most history classes don't require a textbook and I couldn't afford to buy it, so I was screwed.) Mazower needs to refocus his lectures and focus on the important information rather than superfluous information. The class material was interesting but Mazower made the class difficult for me to stay engaged in. Lectures felt rather pointless half the time because I wasn't learning anything.

Dec 2006

I happened to love both European Catastrophe and Prof. Berghahn's class this semester on modern Germany. Prof. Berghahn is warm, friendly, and, most importantly an excellent scholar and an interesting lecturer. His frequent focus on social history and choice of (in my opinion) already fascinating periods of history makes his lectures easy to listen to. If you choose to write your final paper on your own topic, he is really available to talk about this outside of class and takes an active interest in your work. I'd take another class with him in a heartbeat.

Jan 2006

Wretched, incomparable disappointment. This is the worst class I have taken from the otherwise excellent History department. It is difficult to believe that a course taught by a so-called distinguished professor for so many years can still seem like such a poorly organized train wreck. True, Volker could feign benevolence, granting the same post-Thanksgiving extension on the research paper he does every year (were he to merely readjust the due date on the syllabus, the opportunity to seem as if a warm and caring instructor would of course be lost). He will take the time to meet with you and recommend sources on your papers as well, but only up to a point (and will grade based on preconceptions he somehow gleaned from these meetings which may have little or nothing to do with the subject or contents of such papers- in fact, for all his reputed easy grading, my book review paper was far more generously graded by the otherwise notorious TAs). I found all his purported warmth to be as disingenuous as that of a department store Santa Claus. And as others have mentioned, the intellectual caliber of the class hardly compensates; if you do glean anything from lectures (most likely in the form of some obscure detail), it will not be in any coherently presented fashion- Volker will flit between tenuously connected topics, claim he is lecturing on one subject and deliver another, and spend, for a European history course, far too much time talking about America and the Far East. There was no attempt, by the end of the course, to summarize its contents and to present any structural or theoretical grounds for European decline, which rendered this course little better than a poorly developed survey. Not highly recommended.

Jan 2006

Other reviewers have already said it right. Volker cares - he always has a big smile on his face in the front of the class, lectures without notes, is awesome to meet with in person, etc. (I feel like he'd be an awesome seminar professor), but this class is really boring. I'm a history major, and I usually love going to my history classes because the professors say such interesting new things about the subject, or shed some new light on an event or period - but this class taught me nothing that I felt like I couldn't learn instead by staying home and reading wikipedia. It was a real disappointment. I stopped going half way through the semester. The workload for this class is also too much. A 7-8 page book review and 15-17 page research paper - for a maximum total of 25 pages is more pages than were assigned for my 4 point seminar, and more than my other three history classes this past semester combined. People seemed to love "Homage to Catalonia" - but its a very difficult book to review (and I thought it was dull). That paper was also graded harshly. I chose to do my own topic for the research paper, but after deciding to pass/fail this class, I did a pretty terrible job (and yet, still received the same grade on it as the book review that I actually worked at). I would avoid this class, I had high hopes for it, and it was a huge letdown. Volker's great though - if you have the chance to take a more intimate class with him, I'd strongly recommend it. This class though - skip over it.

Apr 2004

I really did enjoy the class overall. I thought that his lectures were very interesting, although I noticed that other people who reviewed him did not agree. My main problem with the course was the TAs. Avoid courses where TAs grade your work. They grade extremely hard. He gives the option of attending a discussion section and then each of your papers and your final will count less when calculating your end grade. While this sounds ideal, do not do it. While you may think that it will be easy to get an A in the discussion section it is not worth it because if you are in a discussion section your TA will grade your papers. The TAs grade unfairly. If you are not in a discussion section, while the papers and tests will count more, you are more likely to do better on them, because Professor Berghahn will grade the papers himself, which is ideal. He is a great man. If you take the class, try to meet with him at some point. He is very interesting. Also for the final paper, try to pick your own topic as opposed to one of the options he gives you.

Jan 2004

Well...Prof. Berghahn cares. That's the biggest compliment I can give this course. He cares about the material and he cares about the students. He is flexible and genuinely interested in the thoughts of the students. However, the lectures themselves are not very enlightening or informative. There are certain themes that Berghahn emphasizes and re-emphasizes, but rather than fleshing out the themes with actual history, he just repeats them. All in all, the other reviewer was right. "eh."

Jan 2004

In his defense, Professor Berghahn is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He's always got a smile on his face, is fairly flexible with deadlines, and made himself available for discussions outside of class. However, the class itself disappointed. He tended to spend the first third of each lecture recapping the previous lecture, almost as if he were encouraging you to skip every other class. Worse still, the course amounted to nothing more than a rambling survey of early 20th century history. One day he'll spend a third of the lecture going on a tangent about railroads and standardized time, another day he'll devote the entire class to Nazi racist policies. Sure, some bits of trivia in the lectures were interesting, but what was the point to it all? If there was some method to this madness, it completely passed me by. I came out of the class wondering what, if anything, I learned from it.

Jan 2004

I had trouble sitting in the room assigned to him - but that was more because it was full (he loves the senior citizen auditors) rather than his teaching style. He is able to lecture continuously - only taking one or two breaks to answer questions (for the love of your classmates - PLEASE save your questions for after class/ office hours) - and needs to use little to no A/V equipment. Nevertheless, because he can go on and on it is difficult to take notes since if you miss a sentence you can be confused the entire lecture. The reading list was pretty bad - and I really didn't like the Orwell book although everyone else said it was the "peak" of the reading list. Sections could be either great or godawful depending on which TA you're assigned to. The research paper is insightful and if you choose your own topic he'll read it himself (and give very kind feedback). I was a little disappointed that there wasn't too much time spent on WWII but I guess you could take another class if that war "strikes your fancy." All in all not bad course, but if you want a more interactive class go elsewhere.

Nov 2003

Eh is how i would summarize this prof and this class. he gives excellent, detailed lectures in a very organized format, making it easy for you to take down coherent notes that you will then use on the tests, but they're not particularly fascinating. also just when you think he's about to say something profound, he usually blows it and says something convoluted and a little silly, like his first lecture after 9/11 was about new beginnings and the world today, but it was not nearly as inspirational or comforting as i would have thought coming from an extremely intelligent history professor. the readings he selected were AWFUL, uninformative, VERY poorly written and didn't touch upon the main ideas of the class. he actually ridiculed one of the assigned books and its author in class, but to be fair the book really did suck (the pity of war)

Aug 2003

Bergahn is quite boring and has an unfortunate habit of presenting vapid opinions as if they were the product of deep thought.

Feb 2003

Prof. Berghahn is a very good lecturer, giving interesting lectures in an engaging manner and unique style. He has a German-tinged British accent and a vocabulary all of his own (we tried counting the number of times he mentioned the "orgy of violence). He's also very personable — I can't recall ever seeing him without his big trademark smile — and approachable outside class, too. The readings are not all interesting (the Orwell was the best by far), but the subject matter is and if you're into history at all you'll appreciate Prof. Berghahn's lectures, with their heavy emphasis on social and cultural history.

Jan 2003

I took this course on the recommendation of a friend, only to be severely disappointed. Berghan's lectures are not very engaging and he spends most of his time driving home already obvious points while glossing over some of the more confusing and obscure information. The readings are not particularly enjoyable either (except for the Orwell). Paper assignments were poor I thought.

Nov 2002

He is a thorough lecturer, his presentation of material is interesting and very dense. One can keep up with it, but missing classes, discussion sections and recommended movies will put you at a disadvantage. Yes he does write a lot of names on the board before class that he may or may not incorporate in his lecture that day...so what?...history is more then the lecture and these are there for you to work with on your own (or not). The man knows the subject and treats it with great care, the subject can be daunting and depressing too, but if you are taking the History of the European Catastrophe you should realise that the subject is not about the Gilded Age. Great class.

Jan 2002

The course material was good and Berghahn himself is a very understanding and kind teacher. He pushed the date back of our final paper a week so that we would not have to work over Thanksgiving. At times he can be very dry, but he generally is very interesting and is a decent lecturer. The final was not difficult at all. The TA generally does the grading unless you choose to do some outside research project aside from the given topic choices, or unless you specifically request that he read it. Overall, I enjoyed the class.